Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Treats

I literally baked all weekend for our annual pumpkin carving party. We have a set menu for this event. Spinach dip (classic Knorr recipe), a fabulous cheese spread I found in the Peach Tree Tearoom cookbook, fresh veggies and good old ranch dip, mini pigs in a blanket for the kids (and a few of the adults), massive quantities of salad with my neighbor Sally's homemade vinaigrette, beef pies, apple pie, and sugar cookies cut out in the shape of leaves, acorns, and ghosts. This year I added these black bottom cupcakes which have a filling of cream cheese and chocolate chips.

Overall the party was a success. It was the most organized I've ever been. Usually I'm up to my elbows in flour when my guests arrive, working to get the meat pies in the oven. This year, the pies were assembled in the fridge, the dishes were all clean and put away. It was wonderful! I actually got to enjoy the party and carve my own pumpkin.

I haven't taken a picture of my pumpkin, but here are some of the pumpkins carved by our guests:

Since we've gotten some real cold weather, I'm hoping that these pumpkins won't turn into mush before Halloween. It's a bit of an issue here in Houston. Carved pumpkins don't last long. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Juggling work and fun

This is one of those days when I will be trying to fit everything in.  Since Hurricane Ike shut us down for 11 days, I'm at work this morning trying to catch up. But I don't want to spend all day here as my church is having their annual festival and I want to spend some time there with my daughter, son and daughter-in-law. It's too pretty a day to be cooped up at work. So, hopefully, I can crank some of this stuff out and maybe have fun today too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A hint of fall in Houston

It is a beautiful morning. The kind we don't get often enough in Houston. It's cool. The sky is a gorgeous blue, and we've got the windows open. I have loads that I want to get done, but hopefully the day will culminate in the commune meeting over here around the fire pit to enjoy a rare gorgeous fall evening in Houston.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Almost the Weekend

After four days of computer training here at work, I'm going to be trying to catch up on all the stuff I needed to do this week. Between being out for Hurricane Ike and then this training, I am wondering if I'll ever catch up either at work or at home.

At any rate, most of this weekend will be dedicated to dealing with stuff around the house and getting ready for our annual pumpkin carving party. We've been hosting this party since we moved into our house about 10 years ago. It became an immediate tradition in the neighborhood and I am not allowed to change the menu or anything else about the party. It's always held on the Sunday evening before Halloween, which this year is a bit of  a problem.  Since we live in Houston, carved pumpkins typically only last two days in our weather before turning into a mushy mess. But when I told my neighbors I might skip this year, they promptly made it clear that wasn't an option. So off we go again. And it is fun, even though it is a lot of work. See, we not only carve pumpkins, but I serve everyone supper. And I make all the food from scratch. So, lots of cooking and baking will be going on over the next week. And it's all worth it because it makes people happy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The One Step at a Time Program

Currently in my house, I have a bedroom that has turned into a black hole. It's my son's former room and in preparation for the massive redo of the kitchen and the the den, a lot of stuff got dumped in there. Which means I have not been able to use this room for it's new purpose as a sewing/weaving/computer room, because I can barely get in the door. So, I've got a new goal. Not to get in there over a weekend and clean it all out, but to do just a little bit in there every day. So, far, I've done something productive in there the last two nights. It's not much, but at least I'm doing something about it and I'm not feeling overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the job. 

The motivators to find a workable solution to the mess are: a) I've got my mother coming to stay the weekend before Thanksgiving, b) I've got to be able to get to the sewing machine so I can start on my daughter's graduation dress and c) last weekend when I was switching out the  summer stuff in the house for fall stuff, I found myself tossing things into my at college daughter's room and realized with horror that I was creating two 'junk' rooms in my house. 

We'll see how it goes. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Kitchen and Den Finally got Painted

I did get the kitchen and den painted. It was a hellish job, punctuated by complete exhaustion, a rather icky case of food poisoning, and issues with my spouse. But it was all worth it, because I no longer hate the way these two rooms look. They are light and 'happy.' None of this would have been possible without the help of my daughters and one of their friends. They worked so hard to make this happen. To give an idea of the scale of this project, we removed wallpaper, primed cabinets and paneling, removed 43 cabinet doors and all the hardware on them, then installed new hardware on the cabinet doors. Ten drawers. And painted inside the upper cabinets.

The results are here:

And I love my renewed spaces.  One of these days I'll have to do something about the countertops, but first I want to replace the vinyl and carpet with ceramic tile.